After spending three long (in a good way) days at the CoinDesk hosted blockchain conference Consensus, attending lectures and discussion panels, speaking with exhibitors and lunch-table-mates, and generally just seeking out hints of what’s going on and where things are headed, it was fairly obvious that there are specific trends in blockchain and gaming that everyone is concurrently working towards, whether or not they realize everyone else is doing it.
Trend 1: Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
NFTs are unique, digital, cryptographic tokens, and what makes them so special is that they are not interchangeable. NFTs are like snowflakes or fingerprints — no two are alike.
By far the most well-known and successful example of NFTs are the Ethereum based CryptoKitties, which absolutely blew up when it first launched. Famously — or infamously — CryptoKitties was so popular at one point that it completely throttled the Ethereum network, rendering it slower than a snail’s pace, which is an altogether different topic.
While it remains to be seen, one might deduce that (part of) the future of blockchain gaming would entail some form of digital collectibles to either hang onto or sell.
Trend 2: Speed & Scalability
One of the longtime complaints about blockchain in general over the past several years has been speed and lack of scalability. Okay, that’s two complaints, but for this argument they go hand in hand.
More than ever before, organizations and blockchains themselves are touting block times and transactions per second, constantly working to improve both. This has resulted in myriad forks of various blockchains — namely Ethereum — with minor improvements resulting each time.
In some cases, perhaps due to lack of technical knowhow or simply the lack of desire to fork, more and more organizations are taking their blockchain games (and other applications) to brand new blockchains. Inherently faster blockchains, that are designed fast from the get-go, like EOS, AION or WAX, allow for scalability because they are not bogged down by crowding and exponential/viral growth.
Trend 3: Interoperability
Whether you stick with Ethereum, recreate your game for EOS, or choose another blockchain altogether, there’s still the issue of interoperability. That is, the idea of your game or application playing nicely with versions of itself between blockchains or even between forks of the same blockchain. Not as easy as it sounds.
Several companies have taken on this issue, mostly by attempting to allow applications within any Ethereum fork to talk to each other and interact easily. But there’s still the concern of speed and scalability. And what about two instances of a game on, say, Ethereum and EOS?
At least one blockchain is preparing for interoperability between blockchains, blockchains that use different consensus mechanisms, which is the major hurdle in making this happen. The Peerplays Blockchain Standards Association (PBSA) is working on a solution to easily port games and DApps from other blockchains to the Peerplays blockchain through Sidechain Operator Nodes (SONs). They are also working on a sidechain solution that would allow simple movement of BTC within the Peerplays blockchain without the need for multiple wallets.
Gaming on blockchain is evolving daily and it’s hard to keep up with all these innovations, from all corners of the Earth. What’s not difficult to see is that the soon-to-be declared winners of all this blockchain innovation will no doubt be the gamers of the world.